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Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Are your dog's eyes red and irritated? It could be conjunctivitis. In today's post, our Westminster veterinarians explain some of the causes of conjunctivitis in dogs, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.

Conjunctivitis - Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis is a relatively common eye infection that affects the mucous membrane called the ‘conjunctiva’, which covers your dog's eyes and eyelids. The conjunctiva is very similar to the lining of the nose or mouth and it acts as a protective barrier against infections and foreign objects. When the conjunctiva becomes infected or inflamed the condition is called conjunctivitis, although many people know it as 'pink eye'. 

Common Causes of Conjunctivitis

Your dog can develop conjunctivitis due to a number of different causes including: 

  • Irritation from foreign bodies
  • Allergies
  • Viral infections
  • Tear film deficiency
  • Tumors
  • Eye abnormalities
  • Eye injury
  • Tear duct obstruction
  • Parasites

An underlying eye condition such as ulcerative keratitis, glaucoma, or anterior uveitis could also lead to conjunctivitis in dogs, as can breed-specific conditions such as nodular episcleritis in collies.

Signs That Your Dog May Have Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can affect one or both of your dog's eyes and typically causes the affected eye(s) to become very uncomfortable and very itchy! Your dog may show symptoms such as blinking, squinting, or pawing at their eye. A clear or green discharge from the eye can also be a sign of conjunctivitis in dogs as can redness in the whites of the eyes, and red or swollen eyelids or areas surrounding the eye. 

Conjunctivitis will often start in one eye but quickly spread to the other through contamination, although in cases where allergies or viral infection are the cause both eyes can be affected right from the onset.

If your dog is showing signs of conjunctivitis, even if symptoms seem very mild, contact your vet to book an appointment for your pet. Left untreated conjunctivitis could lead to permanent eye damage.

How Conjunctivitis in Dogs Can Be Treated

The treatment your vet prescribes for your dog's conjunctivitis will depend upon the underlying cause of the condition. Following a thorough eye examination, your vet will determine the cause and recommend the best treatment for your pup.

If a bacterial infection is causing your dog's conjunctivitis, antibiotics and eye drops are typically prescribed. When allergies are the suspected cause of conjunctivitis an antihistamine may be prescribed to help make your dog's eyes more comfortable, or if there is a foreign body irritating your dog's eye your vet may need to remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic. If your pet's conjunctivitis is caused by a blocked tear duct, surgery will be required followed by eye drops and antibiotics.

If you notice that your pup is persistently pawing at their eyes while they are being treated for conjunctivitis it may be necessary to have your pet wear a cone or Elizabethan collar to prevent further eye irritation and allow the eye to heal.

The Spread of Conjunctivitis

Many pet parents ask us 'Can I catch conjunctivitis from my dog?'.  It may surprise you to learn that, while it's very unlikely that you will catch conjunctivitis from your dog it is possible if the cause of your pup's eye condition is a parasite such as roundworms. Another good reason why heading to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment is essential.

Your Dog's Recovery from Conjunctivitis

With treatment, most dogs will make a full recovery from conjunctivitis however it's important to note that it's best to begin treatment as early as possible in order to avoid complications. In some rare cases, dogs can be left with scarring on the eye and/or vision problems due to this condition being allowed to become more severe.

Eye Care for Dogs in Westminster

At Wachusett Animal Hospital and Pet Retreat our experienced team of veterinarians provide a range of ophthalmology services for cats and dogs. If you are concerned about your pet's eye health we are here to help.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Our Westminster vets have extensive experience diagnosing and treating eye conditions in pets. If your pup's eyes are red and sore contact Wachusett Animal Hospital today to book an eye exam for your canine companion. 

Welcoming Cats & Dogs to Our Animal Hospital

Wachusett Animal Hospital and Pet Retreat is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Westminster companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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